TED, which stands for 'Technology, Entertainment and Design', is a series of conferences organised on a non-profit basis with the aim of spreading good ideas. For those who can't attend in person, the TED Talks podcast offers some of the best talks, and its videos have had more than one billion views.
The talks we've selected below give unique insight into design from some of the world's finest minds. As a Florida-based advertising agency, we've found the insights they provide invaluable. Hopefully they can do the same for you - sparking inspiration and promoting alternative ways to think...
Paul Bennett is the chief creative officer at global design consultancy IDEO. He shares examples of their work and how in some instances, going for the 'less sexy' option makes all the difference in a tool’s function. "Design doesn’t have to be about grand gestures," Bennett says, "but can solve small, universal and overlooked problems."
Don Norman is author of the book The Design of Everyday Things. Here he talks about impractical gold-plated juicers, fish on ping-pong tables and Google’s use of the letter O. More importantly, he touches on the intangible connection between design and emotion.
Tim Brown is the CEO and president of IDEO. Through fun and interactive exercises, Brown displays the relationship of creative thinking and play. He emphasizes that: "It’s not an either/or, it’s an ‘and.’ You can be serious and play."
Here graphic designer David Carson takes you through his own discovery of passed works and progression through design. He advises others that, "You have to utilize who you are in your work. Nobody else can do that: nobody else can pull from your background, from your parents, your upbringing, your whole life experience."
05. Think big
Another TED talk from Tim Brown compares the design of past and present. He argue that while design is currently focussed on the "small canvases" of aesthetics, image, and fashion, it is beginning to trend back towards innovation. By considering the issues of systems rather than the individual, larger questions can be answered.
Journalist and author John Hockenberry argues that design must have intent. "An object imbued with intent; it has power, it’s treasure, we’re drawn to it," he explains. "An object devoid of intent; it’s random, it’s imitative, it repels us." He urges us to live a life with intent and to "get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged".
Paula Scher is a graphic designer (and quite possibly the only one with a vendetta against Helvetica). Scher justifies how she both plays and gambles with her work. She explores the progression of her design through stages of "solemn and serious". Intriguingly she adds that "the best way to accomplish serious design… is to be totally and completely unqualified for the job."
Using a multitude of visual imagery, designer Marian Bantjes examines the right side of the brain. She tells the audience that, although ego has no place in graphic design, it was indeed ego in her design that propelled her career. Bantjes talks about the cross-pollination of inspiration and how it contributes to sustaining a functioning society.
Here legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser speaks about artist Piero della Francesca and the process of creating a poster. Glaser challenges the contemporary guidelines of poster design by shape and including copy, featuring comical notes of thought. "Fear of embarrassment drives me as much as any ambition," he admits.
John Maeda, president at the Rhode Island School of Design, discusses the overlap of technology, design, art and leadership and demonstrates the different messages conveyed through design. He jokes: "When people say I don’t get art… that means that art is working."
Words: Justin Ramb
Justin Ramb is CEO and chief creative officer of Florida-based advertising agency BigEye Creative.
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Did we miss your favourite TED talk off the list? Let us know about it in the comments!